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Mary teaches us to turn suffering into prayer

Archbishop Wenski's message at vespers on second day of priests' convocation

Archbishop Thomas Wenski preached this message during vespers with archdiocesan priests, Sept. 15, 2021. The priests are gathered in Miami for their annual convocation, Sept. 14-16.

Mary experienced pain and suffering in her earthly life as the mother of Sorrows, as Simeon had prophesied at the Presentation of the Lord in the temple. As the Sorrowful Mother who stood at the cross of her suffering son, Mary still stands by the members of her Son’s Body who in their own suffering bear the signs of his passion.

It has always been hard for us to accept the mystery of pain and human suffering especially when this mystery touches the young and innocent. Or when this touches us as it has with the pandemic.

Why does a loving and just God permit us to suffer? This question is as old as time itself. Yet, like the Old Testament Job, we still demand answers, we want reasons. But as with Job so too with us, God is not forthcoming with pat answers — at least, not on this side of heaven. God’s response is just one word: Jesus.

Jesus did not come to explain away suffering; he came to take it upon himself.

Mary stood at the foot of the Cross united to Christ in passion. She suffered with hope and with meek self-abandonment to the will of God, and in doing so made herself in Christ a living offering for the salvation of the world. She can teach us to offer up our own pains and sufferings and make them an eloquent and a powerful prayer.

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